The Rock IV
The least populated kingdom, it is loosely ruled by a human Druid-King. The entire kingdom is almost exclusively populated in the eastern and southern sections, with a clearly delineated western border where the expansive jungles of Parasabda spread off into unknown lands. There are remnants of old roads and cities to the west, but they are overgrown and populated by wild animals and monsters many of which still carry the taint of the abyss. The sacred jungles of Parasabda still hold the taint of the abyss, and within the folds of the forests are rumored to be ancient ruins from before the elven exodus, filled with artifacts and ancients texts of knowledge and guarded still by the guardians of old.
The Druids of Loxosphil strive to maintain a harmonious existence with the land, and have actually made great achievements in healing the scars of the centuries of abuse the once fertile lands suffered during the great taint. The residents of Loxosphil are mostly simple people who work and nurture the land and live as one with it.
The cities of the middle countries are cities only in name, and are very sparsely populated most of the time. They are built into the land around them, and many of the buildings are growing living trees and natural caverns that have been shaped and maintained by the Druids. Eight times a years the cities swell with visitors who come to participate in the rituals set up by the Druids to continue to cleanse the land. These eight holidays are held for two days, except for midyears celebration, which is three days, approximately every 45 days, and are huge parties as well as spiritual events.
There are two exceptions to this rule in the heartland of Loxosphil.
The first is the “capital”, Osphilius, a grove-city named after the human Druid who led the survivors of the Rock from that doomed city.
The second is an old fortress, Bloodwatch, restored and maintained by the “army” of Loxosphil.
The center of any Loxosphilian community is the Druid. He is a combination of spiritual leader, mayor, and sheriff. The Church has offered and tried to start churches in Loxosphil, but they have never caught on with the locals who prefer to come the Druids for healing and such, who do not charge for it as the priests of the Three do.
The southern coast is a different story. There are two port cities, Barcion and Larruma.
Osiphilus, although a great leader had a weakness for the pleasures of the flesh. The descendants of his first born son, Oxopa, pass on the mantle of Druid-King. He is said to have fathered as many as 35 different children in his life time, from his time in Talbral up until the time of his death at age 125 in the city that bears his name. He was not neglectful however and he recognized and supported all the children that he knew of. His descendants hold a place of honor in Loxosphil, and are the equivalent of nobility in that realm.
After the world was cleansed, panic engulfed the Rock. During the riots against Max’s iron rule, all of the surviving Drow disappeared. Every remaining elf went into a torpor, as did all of the half golems, although their living parts remained functional. All true golems fell apart into worthless dust. 80% of the individuals of longer-lived races also fell into torpor. To make matters worse, all fiendish creatures and half-fiends were seeming unaffected by this phenomenon and all divine casters that followed a deity, cause or source of divine power lost their powers. There were a few exceptions; druids maintained their ability to cast divine spells, although the majority of them were elves and one man Sebastien Talmek, the first of a group to be known as Ur-Priests.
Without their powers, the priests were unable to maintain control, and the riots turned into gang wars, with the strongest of them trying to take control of the city. Death and disease spread as the priests tried desperately to save the sick and wounded with their skill alone. Most of the druids left the city, finally being able to venture out into the lands beyond the mountains; they sought to repair the damage done to the earth from the centuries of corruption of the lower planes.
Two men stayed and used their divine power. One was a powerful druid named Osiphilus the other was Sebastien Talmek.
Osiphilus gathered one of the human gangs and used them and his powers to hold and maintain the farmlands on the three peaks. He taught those of his gang who showed promise the ways of nature and slowly gained control of the city using his plentiful food source as leverage instead of violence. A few non-humans resisted, eating their victims to survive, but most joined with Osiphilus and eventually his gang took control of the whole city. After the gang violence was brought under control, Osiphilus set the surviving citizens to collect all the bodies that had gone into torpor and keep them safe and comfortable in the hopes that they would eventually awaken.
There were thousands of bodies in this state and it was a massive undertaking. Even worse was the ten thousand or more actually dead bodies that piled up in the streets and houses from the riots, destruction and gang war. Disease was already a problem, and was only going to get worse, so Osiphilus decided to move the survivors out of the city and into the forests surrounding the mountain slopes. After setting the bodies of the torpor victims safely inside the church of Saint Cuthbert, Osiphilus gathered the 8,000 surviving men, women and children and led them out of the city.
These refugees, led by Osiphilus, headed south into the devastated countryside. Most of the natural life was gone, long dead for hundreds of years, and the few plants and animals that did survive were twisted almost beyond recognition. The refugees were beset on all side by horrible half demons, and even some demons themselves that were left behind when the gate was closed.
By the end of the first week, nearly half the refugees were gone, either killed in attacks or disappearing in the night. Midday during the eighth day of their journey the bedraggled band came upon an ancient castle, still standing despite the many years that had hammered down upon it.
The refugees settled into the large castle, and thanks to Osiphilius and his disciples managed to survive and thrive, fending off the creatures that inhabited the landscape around them. Using his magic, Osiphilius slowly restored the land surroundin the old keep, called Bloodwatch of old, according to some scholars who had escaped the riots and hoped to find some of the ancient libraries from before the World was engulfed if they survived.
These survivors soon found out the ancient purpose of Bloodwatch, long forgotten or perhaps ignored by the scholars. To the East a large desolate valley filled with lava flows and fumaroles was home of old to tribes of barbarous Fire Giants. Now twisted and interbred with demons, a horde of these barbarians assaulted Bloodwatch, drawn by the signs of life. The refugees fought them off, but there were many casualties and with their numbers dwindling, they were decided to move on.
Not all were in agreement however, remembering the harrowing journey from the Rock, many of the warriors opted to stay, thinking that thick walls were better protection than the open wilds. So Bozena Kieracul, a follower of Osiphilius and powerful druid herself, volunteered to stay with the 900 or so who would not leave the safety of Bloodwatch.
Osiphilus and the remaining 2,500 remaining refugees headed south, encountering some danger but nothing like the Giant attacks at Bloodwatch. All along the way, Osiphilius and his druids were working on cleansing the land as they went. After a few weeks of travel, they came upon a valley, most likely once lush, but now like the rest of the land scarred and hurt. Osiphilus chose this valley to settle in because of a sapling, a small oak tree that was growing, pushing itself out from the ash that layered the ground.
Meanwhile back in Bloodwatch the survivors were fighting for their lives as the giants attacked in earnest. The old stones of Bloodwatch held and they survived, but with casualties. Each of the survivors was blooded though, tested in battle against overwhelming odds and finding steel within themselves. They decided to be more proactive against the beasts that infested the lands around them, and formed groups that would patrol for and eventually hunt down the monsters that lived around them.
This task proved larger than any of them thought as Hundreds of years later the groups, named Wardens, still survive. Their task has changed over the years. They still hunt down monsters that threaten towns or farmers if word reaches them in time. They are also the Realms de facto army, though not large, the groups are effective and work well together. They operate out of Bloodwatch, which still guards over the Chasm of Ash to ensure that none of the Barbarian tribes invade Loxosphil, and many young men and women make the journey to Bloodwatch to enlist in the Wardens if they find the life of a famer too boring.